Firefox Tabs 1.x Style

While on the topic of writing techie stuff, I might as well mention this little thing about Firefox that I discovered recently. As I’ve said in a previous post, I’ve been given a new PC at work because my old one got stuffed. One of the first things I installed on the new PC was Firefox.

I downloaded Firefox straight from the Mozilla website and installed that. It was then I realised that this Firefox was a bit different from the one I’m used to. Apparently, I’ve been using an older version of Firefox (version 1.5.0.9) for a while now and didn’t even know it.

I’ve been using the “Check for Updates…” menu item under Firefox’s Help menu to check if I have the latest version. Well, it now seemed to have just checked if there are any newer version 1.x updates but didn’t inform me that there was actually a version 2 of Firefox.

Anyway, the thing is, I like Firefox 1.x style tabs. Version 2’s tabs were more like Internet Explorer 7’s and I hate it. I want the close button for the tab in one place so that I can close tabs in quick succession if they are placed adjacent to each other. I also dislike the tab scrolling thing that comes on when there more than a handful tabs are open all at once. I prefer to see all the tabs even if I couldn’t read the tab names. I could still rely on the icon and the tab placement to help me distinguish among tabs I’m looking at.

Fortunately, there is a way to fix this but not through the Options dialog box on Firefox 2. Thanks to some quick web researching, I found that the Firefox settings (even those that aren’t documented) could easily be changed by typing about:config in the address bar then hitting enter.

To disable tab scrolling, all I have to do is set browser.tabs.tabMinWidth to 0 from the default of 100. Basically, this key allows you to set the minimum width of a tab. If enough tabs are open and adding a new tab would force the minimum tab width to drop below the default, the tab scrolling feature turns on. So, to have more tabs in there before tab scrolling turns on, you’ll have to set the value lower than 100. As for me, I set it to 0 to disable it completely.

To keep the close tab button in the right-most corner like it was in Firefox 1.x, I should set browser.tabs.closeButtons to 3. Setting it to 0 tells Firefox to only put the close button on the active tab. Setting it to 1 (the default) would show close buttons on every tab. Setting it to 2 would hide the close button altogether. Frankly, I don’t know why anybody would want to set this key to 2.

Well, that should be enough techie stuff for a while.

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Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

My iPaq, ActiveSync and the Firewall

I’ve been using iPAQs for some time now (though I’ve been switching between models) and I’ve always used ActiveSync to synchronise my device to both my home PC and office PC. I haven’t had any problems with synching until a couple of weeks ago when my office PC refused to connect with my iPAQ PDA.

At first I thought it was the PC that was at fault. I’ve been getting other memory leak type errors from it at about the same time so I suspected the synch problem to be related to it.

I’ve been given with a spiffy new office PC recently but I was surprised to discover the synch problem still present. I then realised that the cause of the problem was something else entirely. After a bit of research on the web, I found out the culprit: our office firewall!

According to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile ActiveSync 4.0/4.1/4.2 USB Connection Troubleshooting Guide:

Most cases of ActiveSync 4.x USB connection problems as listed above are caused by Windows desktop firewall applications or applications that manipulate network traffic. These applications conflict with the TCP traffic between your device and the PC, causing data transfer and connection issues. The list below provides some known applications that may cause problems connecting your device to your PC.

If this was a problem with my home PC, I could fix it very easily. However, this is the office PC I have to deal with here and I don’t have sufficient permission/access rights to modify the settings of the firewall application. I talked to our network administrator about it and he told me what I already suspected. The firewall was set to block almost all network traffic and he was a bit unwilling to modify the settings. So, the only way to synch my PDA to the office PC was to disable the firewall everytime I had to synch. It’s such a pain to do, not to mention risky.

I continued my search for a workaround the problem that didn’t involve modifying firewall settings, basically bypassing it entirely. After following forum threads about the topic, I eventually found a discussion about other Windows Mobile 5.0 PDA devices and issues with ActiveSync.

One of their suggestions was to install a handy little utility called USBSwitch_PPC.cab on your Windows Mobile 5.0 PDA. The application called USB Killer will be installed on your PDA. Run it and change the ActiveSync Mode from RNDIS to Serial. Serial mode is the old way PocketPC PDAs synch with PCs. It may be slower than the current method that uses TCP/IP protocols, but at least the firewall ignores serial connections.

And now, I’m able to synch my PDA to my office PC without having to shutdown the firewall software first.

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 1:38 am  Leave a Comment  

First Paycheck

Lookee what I got in the mail today! It’s my first paycheck for drawing a short 8-page comics story for the Going Down Swinging literary anthology book. Actually, it’s the only time I ever got paid to draw. Although it is not that much, I’m still glad I got paid at all. I’m now thinking if I should even cash it. Maybe I should just frame it or something.

The payment was $100 per story and I did an 8-page story. That comes down to $12.50 per page I submitted. After seeing the book and saw that people submitted 4-page, 2-page and even a 1 page comic, I couldn’t help but feel slightly ripped off because they still got paid $100 for those. Next time, I’ll try to be smarter about this. Still, I needed the entire eight pages to tell the story so I don’t feel too ripped off.

Hopefully, my future forays into comics would be similarly rewarding (if not more so).

Published in: on February 7, 2007 at 11:41 pm  Comments (10)  

Trip to Bohol, Day 1

I was originally planning on writing a complete travelogue of our trip to the Philippines last Christmas season. After giving it more thought, I decided to just retell the more interesting events and curious aspects of our vacation instead. This way, I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed by the task of writing about our trip. So, here, I’ll talk about our three-day vacation in Bohol.

When we were still living in Manila, we’ve never really ventured too far from Manila. The farthest I’ve been to was Cebu and I did that only once because my Dad used to work in Cebu. In Luzon, the farthest I’ve been was Lucena, Quezon to visit my Tito Pogi’s (aka Teddy) family there. Anyway, Raquel and I wanted to a beautiful and interesting tourist spot in the Philippines that is far from Manila and isn’t Baguio.

The choice came down to the Sagada hanging cemetery or Bohol with its Tarsier and Chocolate Hills. We opted for the latter. I thought I’d rather see the beach, wonderful unique-looking hills and the smallest primate in the world than see a bunch of vandalised coffins hanging from a cliff wall. Although, I was told that despite the vandalism, the hanging cemetery still looks cool. Still, I wanted the less depressing option.

We booked our flight from Manila to Tagbilaran City (Bohol’s capital) two days after our arrival in Manila from Melbourne. We wanted a couple of days in Manila to do some additional shopping for things we might need for our stay in Bohol. We also had our Australian Dollars exchanged for Philippine Peso so that we’d have some local currency to use when we get to Bohol.

Wanting to see the inside of the newer NAIA2 (the international and domestic airport apparently reserved only for Philippine Airline flights and its affiliates), we picked Philippine Airlines return flights. It was only at the airport after my parents dropped us off that I realised that we have forgotten to bring a few things with us. We didn’t have our usual identification cards, for example. Fortunately, I still had my Victorian drivers licence with me while Raquel only had a very old ID from when she was still working in Makati (and still single) and a credit card that showed her new surname. Still, the guard at the airport entrance and the check-in personnel both let us through to the terminal. Soon, we’re up in the air.

When the airplane captain announced that we were about to land, Raquel and I both looked out the tiny window of the airplane to see what Bohol was like from the outside. Right then I told Raquel that I wished we had booked for a longer stay than three days. It was beautiful. All the coconut and banana trees and few nipa huts. I love seeing scenery like that. Anything that takes me back to when I was younger while visiting the provinces.

Then the plane landed. We stepped out on to the tarmac. We were at the Tagbilaran airport. However, to my surprise, it was just a relatively small building. It reminded me of a busy bus terminal near Pasay City except smaller. I guess I shouldn’t have been at all surprised. It was a small town after all.

When we walked out of the airport building, we were suddenly approached by this mob of shouting people carrying signs with names of hotels, resorts and people. They were all drivers looking to get passangers. Coming from Manila, I wasn’t at all sure if we could trust these supposed drivers at all. I was fully expecting these people to rip us off. I wanted to take a taxi with a proper meter on it but unfortunately, according to the airport guard, those come in rarely to the airport.

Since we probably wouldn’t be able to get a legit taxi, we sought out a driver that could take us to our hotel, the Alona Palm Beach Resort. The other drivers were at least kind enough to point out the guy who supposedly services our hotel.

The driver, Bong, greeted us and directed us to his car. It was a white sedan that had no special markings to distinguish it from any other private vehicle. When I got in, there wasn’t an identification card hanging from the rear view mirror neither. That got me a little anxious, to be honest. We only have Bong’s word that he works for Alona Palm Beach Resort at that point. While on the road, he called up his office to confirm that we are heading for the hotel. That certainly help lessen my anxiety about our situation. He also loved telling jokes and that helped, too.

During the trip to the hotel, I noticed how the roadside slowly became less and less uninhabited. First there were buildings then next there were just nipa huts and old houses made of wood in view. For a moment, I feared that we were going to be abducted and held for ransom or something. Well, thank God it was just me being a worrywart because soon, we were pulling into the resort driveway.

Apparently, we were too early having gotten there at about 10 AM. The room we had booked won’t be ready until 2 PM. In the meantime, we were supposed to just hang around the lobby while we wait for our room to be vacated and cleaned. That’s a four hour wait that we would rather not waste sitting around. We left our bags with reception and then we headed straight for the beach with the intent to explore the surroundings.

Near the beach, we noticed a groundskeeper eyeing us from afar while he was sweeping the ground. Actually, he pretended not to be looking but I caught him several times eyeing us. He was slowly sweeping towards our direction until he was only a few feet away from us. He stopped, looked around suspiciously, then looked at us.

“Uh-oh,” I thought. This could be trouble.

He continued with his sweeping then said, “Psst! Sir. Do you want a boat ride to Balicasag (island)? Only P1,200, sir.” For a moment there, I thought he was going to offer us something illegal. But then, maybe offering hotel customers boat rides on the side was something that wasn’t allowed for him to do which would explain his suspicious behaviour.

“Sorry, but we don’t have a lot of money with us,” I said. And that was the truth, too. We stupidly left behind the our local cash in Manila.

“Ah, ok. How about P1,000, sir?” he asked. Although we weren’t haggling with him, it was an interesting offer nonetheless. Either way, we were telling him the truth. We didn’t have a lot of money and we would rather spend that on the tour the next day. We had contracted Bong the driver to show us the sights the next day for only P2,000. That’s actually cheap since there were only the two of us and we have him booked for the whole day.

We said no again to the groundskeeper and continued to follow the path along the beach. From where we were, the path seemed to go through a bunch of nipa huts. We followed the path wanting to explore what was beyond the huts when a couple of ladies dressed in a white coat and white pants intercepted us. What was it now, I wondered.

“Sir, do you like a shiatsu massage?” one of the lady asked. If we were just going to be fending off people left and right as we walk the path, we might as well just head back to the hotel. And that’s what we did.

We ate lunch at the hotel restaurant (which was a bit expensive but, hey, it’s a hotel) then just sat at the reception area to wait for our room. It was warm and we were tired. I couldn’t help but fall asleep right there. I must’ve been snoring loudly or otherwise embarassing the hotel personnel there because we were informed at about 12 noon that our room was finally ready. Yes!

The room was spacious and gorgeous. And, most imporantly, it had airconditioning. We just spent the rest of the afternoon holed up in that room. We only came out again after dark for dinner. Again, we had our dinner at the hotel restaurant but this time, it was by the swimming pool. It was a romantic ambiance with the pool glowing blue while Christmas lights where hung from the coconut trees. The food we ordered was actually delicious but still quite expensive.

When we finished our meal, we decided to try walking around the beach again. I was hoping that since it was already dark, there wouldn’t be a lot of people who would be hassling us. I was right. We were able to go past the nipa huts without anybody trying to sell us something. And what lay beyond the nipa huts were more resorts!

As it turned out, there were a lot of resorts along Alona beach and Alona Palm was just the farthest one. So, when we walked along the beach, we were able to see what the other resorts were like. All of them had this barrio fiesta feel to them. There were bands playing, people grilling seafood and having drinks or simply enjoying the atmosphere. We then realised that we could’ve saved some money if we had eaten our lunch and dinner in one of the restaurants along the beach. Darn.

At least, we also found out that there was an information centre along the beach where we could access the Internet and have our Australian dollars exchanged for Pesos. And we also learned that there was a cheaper place where we could have dinner next time.

After spending a couple of hours by the beach, we returned to the hotel. We don’t want to tire ourselves too much because we’re supposed to get up early the next day for the whole day tour with Bong. I’ll just continue the story in another post.

Published in: on February 5, 2007 at 1:41 am  Comments (4)  

Let’s Play Some Badminton!

From the emails and comments I got on this blog, I know that there are many Pinoys reading this who have just recently migrated to Melbourne or will be moving here real soon. And the most common thing I’ve noticed on the emails I got was that they don’t have any friends or family here in Melbourne and that they are looking to make new friends.

If you happen to be in this situation, I can at least recommend that you join us every weekend in a friendly game of badminton at the MSAC in Albert Park. You don’t have to be great at it to join. It’s okay even if you are a complete beginner. There are a lot of us who aren’t that good at badminton, too. Although, I have to warn you that there are a few (me not included) who are quite skilled already. Anyway, the important thing is to have fun and to make new friends with other Filipinos there who are just as eager to meet you.

So, are you the least bit interested? Just let me know by leaving a comment here and let’s play some badminton!

Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 10:23 am  Comments (6)